The culmination of the 2013 Cleveland Classic will be a repeat of last year’s US Open final, as top seeds Nicol David and Raneem El Weleily both made it past their semi’s opposition in Ohio last night.
World No.1 David, took on a confident No.8 seed Madeline Perry, who surprised crowds with her enthusiasm early on in the tie. Maintaining a high-pace, the Irishwoman kept her opponent moving, and found a tight working drop to put the pressure on David in the early exchanges. The Malaysian was happy to wait for her own opportunities however, and countered Perry’s efforts at the halfway point to stretch out a lead for the first game.
The second game saw a similar pattern as Perry raced out of the blocks, cutting the ball short and making David scramble to retrieve. Again at the halfway point, David began to assert herself on the court. Intricate line and length combined with precision drop shots gives the Malaysian a two game lead.
Perry again starts the new game powerfully, an increased pace followed by some accurate short play gave the experienced Irishwoman a four-point lead early on. Varying her short and long shots, she slowly adds to her lead with David struggling to find her foothold in the match. ‘Resilient’ is one word to describe the world No.12 in this game, and she certainly deserved a comeback game.
David gathered her composure in between games, and returned to court refocused as she took an early lead. She slowly added to her lead as the rallies progressed, denying Perry any cheap points and making the Irishwoman work for every inch. Perry hit the tin to give her opponent match ball, before deep crosscourt nick ends the contest in the Malaysian’s favour.
In the second semi-final, a straight games win gave the Egyptian El Weleily her first WSA final appearance since the US Open in which she last faced David. Against Alison Waters, the contest was very even throughout the opening exchanges. Both players enjoy an attacking style, but with that came errors to prevent either player from mounting a considerable lead at any point. The scores tied at 8 and 9-all and it was the Egyptian who finished off the contest with a trademark crosscourt winner followed by close rally the Waters just couldn’t see away.
The second game was a similar contest as neither player could amass an early lead. Tied at the midway stage, two strokes in Waters favour seemed to give the Englishwoman the advantage, but for an unforced error from the No.3 seed which allowed El Weleily back into game. Again at 9-all, Waters was unable to finish the important rallies, and the Egyptian’s attacking flair proved too much as she doubled her lead.
Confidence increased further, El Weleily cruised back onto court and quickly mounted a four-point lead in the third. Waters’ only tactical errors came from at the end of the rallies in which she found the tin, the frequency of which began to sneak higher as she searched for the winning shots. El Weleily was in the zone at 8-1 up, but Waters’ frustration threw caution to the wind as the Englishwoman saw a late spree bring her back to within 3-points. The Egyptian wasn’t to be caught though, and her short-game proved effective in finishing off the match in three.